Jay Sheehan
Jay Sheehan



My grandfather Jay Sheehan was an 18 year old boy from Newton Ma, when he was drafted and went into the army.  These were very difficult times for my Grandfather's family because two of his older brothers were already in the war.  One was a bomber pilot who was shot down and killed in France during the war.  The other was in the infantry in Europe and was seriously wounded, losing a arm and eyesight in one eye.

The Beginning

My grandfather was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for basic training.  But this only lasted six weeks because he and his unit had to be sent overseas as replacements.  He was part of the third army in the 87th Golden Acorn infantry division, the 300 and 47th infantry regiment company l.  The third army was led by one of the most famous generals, George S. Patton.  My grandfather said they called him old blood and guts - "our blood his guts”.


                                                                                              General George Patton
General George S. Patton is known as one of the most successful United States field commanders on World War 2.  It is said that he always motivated his troops to the highest standard of excellence.  General Patton and his troops traveled across Europe after the battle of Normandy  and defeated Germany.

The war

My grandfather's company was sent into Belgium in the Ardennes, which were t
he woods in Belgium,  right across from the front lines of the German army.  He said that it was very cold day and night and they told him to dig fox holes, but they couldn't do it because the ground was frozen and they had to use hand grenades to make the holes.  He remembers staying in the fox hole for many days and nights with just what he had in his canteen.  Soon after that the Battle of the Bulge began, when the German army moved forward into the American lines.  He remembers constant noise shelling from tanks and guns.  This was one of the most difficult experiences for him in the war, he lost many friends in this battle.  During the battle of the Bulge the Germans suprise attacked the U.S. and rapidly moved the back from German lines.  Isolated units provided time for the British to send reserves to secure the lines to the Meuse and for Patton's third army to hit the Germans from the south.  In this battle the Americans suffered 75,000 casualties .  The Germans lost 80,000 to 100,000 and their strength was impaired.  After the Battle of the Bulge the third army and my grandfather's company moved forward towards Germany.  My grandfather remembers his unit being at one side of the Rhine River.  He looked across the other side to  a wall.   My grandfather remembers the words written in Eglish on that wall, that said “ see Germany and die”.  His company crossed the Rhine River at night, under heavy shelling.  In March of 1945, Patton's 3rd army began its famous bridge crossing of the Rhine River into Germany.  They were attacked and bombed by a 154 German  aircraft from the Luftwaffe.  One of my grandfather's most difficult memories was of the liberation of Buchenwald.  The 87th infantry division was one of the first American units to liberate one of the Jewish concentration camps during World War 2.  Buchenwald concentration camp was the one my grandfather came to.  This concentration camp was made famous by the author Elie Wiesel who stayed in the concentration camp as a boy and later wrote the book Night.  My grandfather has bad memories of the concentration camp and doesn't like to talk about it.  General Patton forced the German citizens in the town to view the camp, which became common practice.  As my grandfather's company moved forward into Germany, he was shot and wounded in battle.  He had to be operated on in a battle field hospital in the woods and from there they shipped him back to a hospital in France.  After spending time there he was shipped in a medical boat to a army hospital in Boston.                
              German penetration, In the Battle of the Bulge

Medals and Awards

During the war my grandfather received Various medals and awards.  The medals that he received were the Distinguished service medal, the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, the European Campaign Medal, the  WW 2 Victory medal, the Army of occupation Germany Medal, the Combat infantry badge, the Honorable service button, and the Sharp Shooter badge.
Medals and Awards

After the war

My grandfather was happy to be home but sad because of what happened to his two older brothers.  While he was home he was still recovering from his wound from the war and was still on crutches.  Everywhere he went he was treated nicely and got tickets to sporting events.  He eventually met my grandmother Marie Sheehan and they had 4 sons.  One of which who is my dad, Tom Sheehan.  My grandfather would tell you that the “worst years of his life” were in the war, but that it also helped him face and deal with difficulties later on in his life.  Nothing seemed as difficult as his experience during the war.


Now my grandfather is 82 years old and recently moved to North Carolina to be near his son and my uncle Jim Sheehan.  He is still independent and lives on his own.  I am very proud of him and happy he is my grandfather.

The rest of the pictures are from my father